Little by little, web apps have started to act more like native desktop and mobile applications. They can be added to the home screen on your phone, send notifications, work offline, and more. At today's Chrome Dev Summit, Google expressed its desire to give web apps even more abilities normally only reserved for native applications — like accessing local files.
The Chrome Dev Summit highlighted some of the browser APIs currently in development, including Web Share Target (web apps can appear in Android's share menu), Wake Lock (prevent the device from going to sleep), WebHID (directly interact with USB/Bluetooth devices), and more. The most exciting feature under development is the Writable File API, which would finally allow web apps to edit local files — with user permission, of course.
It's important to note that none of these features will be limited to Chrome. Google introduces these as web standards to the WICG (Web Platform Incubator Community Group), and encourages other browser vendors (Mozilla, Microsoft, Apple, etc.) and web developers to provide feedback. In all likelihood, most of these new features will eventually arrive on other browsers.
It's great to see web apps slowly receive the same functionality that desktop applications have enjoyed, but with added security precautions. A desktop application can instantly gain access to your microphone, camera, local files, and more — not so with web apps. We've come a long way from the basic mobile web apps found on the iPhone in 2007.
- Chromium Blog